Plenty of people head to Latin America with plans to take intensive Spanish classes. It’s a great way to learn, but you will be stuck behind a desk for a large portion of your trip. If you still want an educational trip but you already know Spanish or just don’t want to sit in a classroom half the time, think about taking dance lessons instead.
It almost seems that people in this area of the world are born dancing. Music pours out of nearly every home and on the weekends, the bars fill up with couples dancing ’til sunrise. This is where salsa and tango were born; where superstars like Shakira first learned to dance.
First, you have to decide which type of Latin dance you would like to learn. Plenty of schools offer a mix of all the popular styles but different regions are known for different dances and you will get the best lessons if you head to the right place.
For tango, you obviously have to head to Argentina. In Buenos Aires, you can watch tango dancers dancing on street corners or come during the yearly Tango Buenos Aires Festival and World Cup and watch world famous dancers on the city’s best stages. Dance studios exist all over the city and many cater to tourists and foreigners. You can book intensive one week courses or stay for a few months and learn to be a real expert.
Salsa in Cali
For salsa, there are plenty of places you can learn but one of the best would be Cali, Colombia. The salsa here is world famous and it has a very unique style that is growing in popularity in the salsa dancing world. Colombians are very friendly and great teachers. You could just show up at a bar and in most cases a local will offer to teach you a few steps. You’ll probably want to invest in a class though as the talent in Cali is incredibly and you’ll definitely feel like you have two left feet if you don’t at least get the basics down before heading out to the local salsa clubs.
If you are in the Caribbean area, look for champeta and reggaeton lessons. You’ll hear the the music everywhere and the both dance types are really fun, energetic, sexy dances. The beats have African roots and represent the afro-american influence on latin dance. Champeta dancing can be found at nearly every Caribbean party while reggaeton is more a club style dance.
Dance and Learn Spanish
Why not combine the best of both worlds and take a Dance/Spanish class? Look for companies that offer combination classes, where you learn Spanish part of the day, learn to dance later in the day, and put both lessons to practice by heading out to local dance clubs on the weekends. You can really improve both skills quickly and can put your new Spanish skills to use in a relaxed, dance environment.
So often travel is just about seeing the sites but it should be about so much more. Travel gives you a chance to connect with new people, understand a new culture, and learn new skills. It can be the best education money can buy and it will be even more so if you invest in a few great classes while on your trip. Whether you decide to take a Spanish class, dance classes, a combination, or decide to learn something completely different, either way you will be taking your trip beyond the typical backpackers party tour.
Couple Travel Tips
- Ask about special couple dance lessons. If you aren’t comfortable in large classes, you can often book private lessons with your partner.
- Go out with your classmates and teachers after lessons. It can be a great way to meet new travelers and the dance instructors will know all the best local dance clubs.
- Before you pay for a week or full month long class, ask if you can sit in on a lesson first. You be able to check to see if the teachers style works for you and to see how the lessons are set up.